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How to #BeSafe from the Flu

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Flu Shot TodayAccording to reports from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), this year’s strain of Influenza (flu) has already hit epidemic proportions across the United States, with at least 15 associated deaths of children so far this season (most in Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, Florida and California.) The most common strain thus far, is known as Influenza A (H3N2).

A contagious respiratory illness, the flu can cause mild to severe illness, which can result in hospitalization or even death. Most at risk are the elderly, young children and other people with weaker-than-average immune systems. Most health professionals contend the best defense against catching the flu is to get vaccinated each year.

Carefully monitoring flu activity across the country, the CDC reports: “As of late December, all national key flu indicators are elevated and about half of the country is experiencing high flu activity. Flu activity is expected to continue into the coming weeks, with increases occurring especially in those states that have not yet had significant activity.

The United States experiences epidemics of seasonal flu each year, and right now all of CDC’s influenza surveillance systems are showing elevated activity. Influenza-like-illness (ILI) has been over baseline for the past several weeks, virological surveillance shows a lot of flu is circulating, and the hospitalization surveillance system shows increasing hospitalizations rates, especially in people 65 years and older. Also, the surveillance system that tracks mortality shows that the country is in the midst of this season’s flu epidemic. During influenza seasons, ILI increases first, and then hospitalizations increase, and then increases in deaths occur, so what is being observed is a typical pattern for the flu season.”

Woman Holding a Mug with a Handkerchief to Her NoseAlthough this year’s flu season started a few weeks earlier than usual, pharmacists across the country don’t expect the virus to peak until early to mid-February, which means there is still time to get vaccinated, as the shot generally takes two weeks to reach full effectiveness. As you weigh the pros and cons of vaccination, it might help you to consider the differences between symptoms of a common cold and the flu:

Common Cold

  • Often begins with a sore throat, which usually lasts for just one or two days
  • Nasal symptoms, runny nose, sneezing and congestion follow
  • A cough manifests by day four or five, typically due to sinus drainage and associated nasal congestion
  • Fever is uncommon in adults but slightly more common in children
  • Symptoms generally last for up to one week

Flu 2015 2Influenza (Flu)

  • Persistent sore throat
  • Fever (100-102 degrees, which is typically higher than for a cold)
  • Severe headache
  • Severe muscle aches
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Chest discomfort
  • The Swine flu is also associated with vomiting and diarrhea.

Although many symptoms overlap, people who catch colds are more likely to suffer far less and rebound much more quickly than those who succumb to the flu. Also of note, while people who vomit often think they have the flu, stomach pain and diarrhea are far more likely to be the result of food-borne illness (food poisoning) than attributable to a case of the flu.

Five Ways to Avoid Catching the Flu

  1. Wash your hands – Even if you are exposed to the flu (by touching a germ-infested counter top at a doctor’s office, for example) if you clean your hands before you touch your face, there’s little chance the germs can reach your eyes, nose, or mouth—all of which are the usual ways they enter your system and start wreaking havoc.
  2. Try not to touch your face – LiveScience.com reports that the average person touches his or her face some 3.6 times per hour. Since cold and flu germs pass from infected surfaces to orifices such as the nose and mouth, the best way to guard yourself is to keep your hands in your lap. Also, try to avoid habits like biting your nails.
  3. Keep surfaces clean – From your home to your cubby at work, the importance of cleanliness cannot be overstated. Take time to disinfect your keyboard, telephone and desk. In fact, set up a reminder to thoroughly wipe down surfaces each time you eat. You might also want to use disinfectant spray or wipes.
  4. Moisturize Your AirWomen’s Health Magazine reports that very humid air might be toxic to flu viruses. Although scientists aren’t quite sure why, one possibility is that droplets that contain the virus shrink quickly in arid environments, allowing them to float around longer. In moist air those same droplets might remain heavy and fall to the floor faster.
  5. Stay home – Although we aren’t recommending you become a hermit, you will lessen your chances of getting sick if you stay away from large crowds. Also, if you are sick, stay home from work so you won’t infect your co-workers. If you’re sick, you probably won’t be at your best, anyway. So take care of yourself and go back to work when you are back in top form.

We hope that this blog post will help you take steps to stay healthy in 2015 and beyond. One convenient and affordable way to do so is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit rjwestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

All About Vaccines

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

In light of recent anti-vaccine rhetoric, it’s important to review the very positive role vaccinations have played in maintaining public health throughout the years. The community is always better served by the prevention of diseases instead of treatment, which can overwhelm the healthcare industry—particularly in case of epidemics.

There is a very long list of vaccines for a variety of debilitating diseases such as: cervical cancer, diphtheria, influenza, Lyme disease, pertussis, rabies, tuberculosis, and yellow fever—just to name a few. Likely the biggest vaccine triumph is the eradication of smallpox, a disease which once killed one out of every seven children in Europe.

In addition to savings lives and improving well-being, vaccines also save society money, as the cost of a single dosage is many times less than the time and resources required for treatment of the associated disease.

How do vaccines work?

  • The human body is attacked by pathogens and produces antibodies every day.
  • Antibodies become a sort of “memory cell” in the body to help ward off future attacks.
  • Vaccines contain a weakened form of a disease that, when injected, does not produce the disease itself but encourages antibodies and subsequent memory cells.
  • These memory cells can remain in the system for decades.

There is a long history of distrust of vaccines in the United States. In 1879, a gentleman named William Tebb created the Anti-Vaccination Society of America. Skeptics still remain, refusing childhood vaccinations for their children due to concerns about the risk of autism, ADHD and hyperactivity.

  • Some individuals contend that vaccinations do not stop diseases at all, and that factors including better sanitation practices, reduced poverty, and better education work together to lower disease rates.
  • Any link between vaccines and autism has been thoroughly discredited.

Let’s review two notable vaccines, one developed half a century ago, and another which is currently in the news:

The poliomyelitis viral disease, commonly known as polio, afflicted hundreds of thousands of people annually before the development of a vaccine:

  • Scientist Jonas Salk created the safest and most effective polio vaccine in the 1950s, which instantly saved thousands of lives. Salk was hailed as a hero, as the country came to a standstill to celebrate the news.
  • The polio vaccine is heralded as a major scientific achievement, an example of how hard work and diligence can conquer problems.

Gardasil is the brand name of a relatively new vaccine that prevents the human papillomavirus virus, (HPV), which can lead to cervical and other genital area cancers:

  • According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly two thirds of cervical cancer deaths can be prevented through widespread adoption of the vaccine.
  • Controversy surrounds some states and school districts which call for mandatory HPV vaccinations.

Looking towards the future, advances in medicine will likely reverse the likelihood of many diseases. Research into HIV and advanced smallpox vaccines, as well as DNA-based solutions, are an example of this type of treatment, which has generated significant interest.

Despite unproven claims about vaccines, booster shots play a vital role in limiting the spread of some of the most crippling diseases in the world. For more information about preventable diseases, vaccine schedules and the importance of following all recommended guidelines, visit the CDC’s site at www.CDC.Gov.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.5 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

11 Safety Tips for 2011

Monday, December 27th, 2010
Safe Combination at 2011

BE SAFE in 2011

  1. Be prepared…for everything and anything! At home and at work, the most important step you can take to ensure your own safety as well as the safety of coworkers, employees, family and friends, is to prepare. For ideas, look to FEMA’s recently announced “Resolve to be Ready in 2011” campaign, which features several suggestions for disaster preparedness. What’s more, our own blog posts provide food for fodder.
  2. Drill. A timely example of how preparation is critical for saving lives occurred at a San Antonio CPS office building which caught fire on December 20.  According to news’ reports, all 400 of the building’s occupants were forced to evacuate the building before 9 a.m., at which point the company’s emergency evacuation plans were put into effect. No doubt benefiting from the safety plan and associated regular fire drills, preparation paid off as every employee escaped without injury.
  3. Protect yourself from cyber-terrorism. As we rely more and more on all things electronic, we must be diligent to guard ourselves against identity theft. Four out of five victims of Identity Theft encounter serious issues as a result of the crime, such as lowered credit scores, bankruptcy, foreclosure, or even prison time. So protect your Internet passwords by creating them randomly and changing them frequently.
  4. Guard against health risks. Although the flood of sensational news’ stories about Cholera, the Swine Flu and SARS have ebbed, you still run the risk of contracting viruses and bacteria if you fail to take precautions to remain healthy. One of the easiest ways to do this is to regularly and thoroughly wash your hands. Also, take advantage of vaccinations designed to protect you against illnesses such as Influenza or Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
  5. Consider your location. Since different types of disasters occur depending on your location, pay attention to geography and history when you prepare for natural or man-made disasters. If you live on the coast, for example, plan for tsunamis. If you get snow, make winterizing a priority. If you live near a fault line, make sure you are ready for earthquakes.
  6. Heed storm warnings. While some natural disasters, such as earthquakes, come without warning, many others are relatively easy to predict. So, if you live in an area where hurricanes or tornadoes are common, follow forecasts. And when an event is anticipated, take necessary steps to ensure your own safety as well as that of emergency workers, who might be put in harm’s way if they have to brave the elements in order to rescue you. 
  7. Do the right thing. Don’t cut corners. Take a cue from the recent Shanghai Fire, which some believe resulted from contractors who cut corners. Applicable to all areas of life, doing what’s right will help keep everyone safe in 2011 and beyond.
  8. Go green. You don’t have to be a hippie to understand the importance of protecting our planet. Today, millions of electronics are shipped to developing countries where they are dissembled, often in a crude manner, which exposes workers and the environment to contaminants such as mercury, sulfur, and lead. This practice puts us all at risk. So do your part this year to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
  9. Travel safely. Try to be patient if you fly. While it might be inconvenient to take off your belt, shoes and jewelry at the security gate, and possibly undergoing a TSA pat-down, these safety measures are in place to keep us safe.
  10. Fight fire with fire prevention. The surest way to fight fire is to prevent it. The National Fire Protection Association has sponsored Fire Prevention Week each year since the Great Chicago Fire roared through Chicago in 1871. This year’s push is to install smoke alarms. So if you haven’t installed them in your commercial property building or at home, do so today!
  11. Keep learning. Our corporate mission is to save lives through training with the motto “Be Safe!” The Allied Universal Training System 2.0 is a fully integrated system which allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system.

If you own or manage commercial property, by enrolling in the system, please consider our system, which trains occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors. What’s more; all user training and testing is recorded. Get quick access to building-specific Emergency Responder information and other resources. We hope you’ll include us in your plans to keep tenants, residents and family and friends safe in 2011 and beyond.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Simple Suds for Staying Healthy

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Want to stay healthy? Wash your hands!

Our last blog post focused on the winter flu and other ailments. We also discussed the benefits of flu vaccines as a compelling form of prevention. Today’s post will investigate other effective ideas to keep you healthy.

One of the simplest ways to stay well is to wash your hands. This easy task is so essential to good health, that the CDC has created an interactive training course focused entirely on hand hygiene.

In the workplace, you touch things all the time. Elevator buttons, door handles, phones, keyboards, there are a host of touch surfaces. To wash hand properly, you need soap. So what exactly is soap? Soap is made by combining essential oils or fats with an alkaline substance such as lye. The two ingredients are heated and mixed together and work to neutralize each other. Fragrance and other materials are also added to the mixture. Then the soap is dried into a mold. Soap works as a detergent and surfactant that mixes with and dissolves oils and dirt so they can be washed down the drain.

Everyone thinks they know how to wash their hands. But few know how to wash them the right way:

What about antibacterial soaps?

Despite aggressive marketing, many studies show that regular soap is as effective for removing germs and bacteria as antibacterial options such as those that contain Triclosan. In addition, most antibacterial soaps need to remain on hands for two or more minutes to take full effect. People who are waiting for a sales meeting aren’t likely to wait that long for their turn at the public restroom sink. And remember, since the common cold is caused by a virus instead of bacteria, antibacterial soaps won’t provide an added benefit for the prevention of colds.

Wash your hands the right way.

Building owners can encourage tenants to wash hands the right way:

  • Hands and forearms should be lathered with soap for at least 15-20 seconds, which is longer than you might think!
  • While warm water is more effective for removing oils from your hands, it is not actually hot enough to “kill” bacteria, which thrives very high temperatures.
  • Proper drying is important not just because no one wants a damp handshake, but also because drying helps remove contaminants that are suspended in water droplets.
  • Encourage washing of hands after restroom use and before and after taking lunch or snack breaks.

Paper Towels and Air Dryers:

Many building owners and facility managers have held debates about the use of air dryer vs. paper towels. While the environmental advantage typically goes to the air-drying option, paper towels take a win in the hygiene department. Paper towels are one-time use and so do not require pressing of a communal button. Also, studies have found that air driers, especially very high-speed models can actually forcefully blow germs up to a few feet.

Alcohol Sanitizers:

Some facility managers have started providing alcohol sanitizing spray or gel sanitizer products for visitors and staff. While this is a good idea, remember that it’s important to remember that hand sanitizers are not as effective as hand washing for removing dirt.

Alcohol-based rubs are a good alternative for sanitation when water isn’t available. Here are some tips for maximizing effectiveness:

  • Apply the right amount – a nickel-sized application is about right.
  • Work quickly. Alcohol evaporates quickly. So rub vigorously to disinfect the front and back of your hands as well as your wrists.
  • Don’t dry off your hands! Much of the germ-killing is accomplished while the alcohol evaporates. So let the sanitizer go to work.

For disease prevention, it’s important to think of Mom’s words: “Don’t forget to wash your hands!” This time-tested advice is especially important in a workplace where common areas increase your odds of picking up or transmitting disease.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Hack! Shiver! Sneeze! Cough!

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

There are steps you can take to ward off the flu.

While winter often brings to mind holiday parties and gift exchanges, it’s also a miserable time for those unfortunate souls who get sick. The typical air inside an office building is circulated less than 12 times an hour, compared to 15 times per hour on a plane. Think about that the next time you worry about getting sick from “stale” cabin air. With flu vaccines resulting in employees taking 45% fewer sick days, more companies are taking notice and getting involved in prevention.

When most people think about winter diseases, the first thing that comes to mind is influenza. It’s estimated that 5 to 20 percent of U.S. adults come down with seasonal flu every year. According to the CDC, 119 million doses of flu vaccine had been distributed this year as of September 24. That amount is a substantial increase of 30 million doses, compared to the amounts which were sent the same time last year. Although analysts at the CDC are predicting a milder flu season this winter, they are still stressing that everyone gets vaccinated.

You may ask, “What about H1N1, the “swine flu?” It’s still out there, although research estimates that 59% of the U.S. population is now immune.

Respiratory Synctial Virus, commonly known as RSV, is another very common lung and respiratory tract infection. It’s so prevalent that researchers state almost all children age two and under have had the disease. While it is the biggest threat to smaller children, and especially premature infants, RSV can also cause problems for adults, sending individuals who have heart or lung disease to the hospital. As a building owner or manager, you can take steps to educate RSV-infected individuals about the benefits of staying at home, away from tenants and employees who are parents of small children.

What can property-owners and managers do to mitigate the effects of winter illness?

  • Set up a flu vaccine clinic at your building. Many private companies will provide qualified nurses, consent forms and the latest vaccine.
  • Distribute information about recognizing the symptoms of flu and other winter diseases.
  • Consider new HVAC systems that better circulate and clean the air.
  • Encourage tenants to adopt policies regarding sick employees, including work-from-home arrangements for vital staff.

A real focus on workplace health can pay immediate and long-term benefits. Healthier employees mean more productive and profitable tenants whose success might necessitate additional office or industrial space.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Swine Flu Can Stop with You

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

syringe

Part 3 in a 4-Part Series

A common misconception is that a standard seasonal flu shot will prevent you from contracting the hybrid strain of H1N1, commonly referred to as the swine flu. Unfortunately, a standard flu shot alone will not offer complete protection from the virus.

According to Jonathan E. Fielding, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, “This new strain of influenza is pandemic and is the predominant strain circulating in our community.”

The good news is that, as of October 1, 2009, the flu shot and nasal spray treatments, developed specifically for H1N1 become available on a limited basis. According to information released at a Center for Disease Control press conference on October 2, approximately 600,000 doses are expected to be administered within the following few days in selected states across the country.

What’s more, 300,000 pediatric, liquid doses of the antiviral drug Tamiflu have been released from a national medicine stockpile. Both of these medications have been developed specifically for the swine flu.

Schedule an appointment for the vaccine today to avoid—

  • Discomfort
  • Spreading the disease
  • A trip to the hospital

While this vaccine will prevent thousands of potential swine flu cases, some individuals across the country have already contracted H1N1. If you have been professionally diagnosed or just suspect you might have the infection, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. At highest risk are pregnant women, children and young adults, people with conditions like asthma and diabetes, and caregivers of infants.

Since the initial H1N1 outbreak in the spring of 2009, health care professionals have had plenty of time to treat swine flu cases up close and personal. Familiar with this particular strain and armed with the new vaccine and nasal spray, medical practitioners will soon be well-prepared to diagnose and help those who are infected.

Although some may be wary of taking a trip to the doctor’s offices because of the risk of contracting contagious diseases as well as encountering needles, most cases do not require intravenous or fluid-IV administration. Common treatment options for swine flu include drinking plenty of water, bed rest, and over-the-counter medication.

Though the swine flu can last for up to two weeks, patients are contagious for only about 8 to 10 days. During this time, they are encouraged to avoid public places, and, most importantly, to follow doctors’ instructions.

The threat of swine flu can stop with you. For more helpful tips about health and welfare, contact Allied Universal, Inc., where we encourage everyone to BE SAFE!

Swine Flu Facts

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Part 1 of a 4-part seriesB00528_H1N1_flu_blue_sml

Though H1N1 (also known as the Swine Flu) is, ultimately, just another flu bug, it’s hard to avoid panic when bombarded with forecasts that the entire population may fall victim to a global pandemic.

Fortunately, getting the swine flu is not a sudden death sentence. In fact, a very small percentage of people who contract it die from it. Nevertheless, there remain several legitimate reasons that it is better to avoid contracting it at all, the least of which is that dealing with any flu virus is uncomfortable and inconvenient. More importantly, more people die from the swine flu than from any other known strain.

H1N1 was first discovered in La Gloria, a small town in Southern Mexico in March of 2009. Soon thereafter, more cases were reported in the United States and Europe, inspiring people to wear masks and gloves in public. Fear spread, as thousands worried about contracting the “deadly virus.” Surprisingly enough, the much-feared swine flu has a mortality rate of just 0.01%. This is, admittedly, a much larger percentage than the seasonal flu, which claims only %0.001 of its victims. So, it’s important to recognize the symptoms associated with every strain of the flu.

Unlike a common cold, Influenza usually starts suddenly and may include the following:

  • High Fever
  • Headache
  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea and vomiting

Having these symptoms does not always mean that you have the flu. Many illnesses, including the common cold, can cause similar symptoms. Although most of the symptoms of the seasonal flu and the swine flu are similar, the swine flu almost always includes vomiting and diarrhea, in every age group. And while a common cold can knock you out for a few days, a flu bug will usually persist for up to a week or more. If your symptoms seem more intense than a typical cold, seek medical attention.

Though people usually recover completely from the swine flu, the mortality rate seems to be the highest in people under age 25. Young children and babies also need to be careful when going out in public, where they could possibly contract H1N1. And while, oddly enough, elderly people seem to be more immune to swine flu than younger folks, they need to take special precautions, because the swine flu can cause respiratory problems, which can also lead to death.

Allied Universal, Inc. is dedicated to safety, and preparedness. If you are armed with information about the flu, it may be easier to avoid catching it in the first place. For more more information about the H1N1 virus, visit WebMD or the CDC website.

Next week in our special series about the swine flu, we’ll look at what you should do to stay healthy and prevent the spread of the Influenza.

In the meantime, BE SAFE!!!

http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/flu-cold-symptoms

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/01/health/01plague.html

http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2009/04/swine_flu_what_do_cfr_virulenc.php

http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/URI/colds.html